Talking to your child about alcohol, other drugs and gambling can be challenging. It’s hard to know where to start. You might worry that if you raise the topic, it will somehow encourage your child to experiment. You might feel unsure about the subject. Sometimes it seems kids know more about drugs than you know.
Educate yourself: Take time to learn a little about the substances you think may be a part of your child’s life. It’s important to know the facts about alcohol, drugs and gambling and speak to your child truthfully. Kids are smart; they will see through attempts to scare them away from drugs and alcohol with exaggerated consequences and they will lose trust in you.
Encourage questions: Think of ways to open a conversation about the topic. Try asking what they think of kids who use alcohol, drugs and gambling. By responding to questions in a non-judgmental and reasonable way, you will encourage your child to get in the habit of talking with you, and relying on you as a source of accurate information.
Listen: This may be the single most important thing you can do for your child. By really listening to what they have to say, you will learn more about what your child needs, what worries them, and what is important to them. This will help you respond in a way that is meaningful to them, and that builds trust.